President Joe Biden hosted Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta as he faces scrutiny for his and his family’s offshore holdings revealed in the Pandora Papers, and as war roils on in neighboring Ethiopia.
The presidents met in the Oval Office on Thursday just weeks the bombshell Pandora Papers found that Kenyatta, among over 330 others, benefitted from secret accounts. At a time Kenyatta was publicly campaigning against corruption, his family put about $30million into offshore accounts, the documents revealed.
When asked of the subject in a background press call, a senior Biden administration official said: ‘We will be discussing strengthening financial transparency, both in Kenya as well as, you know, asking their partnership on tackling this global challenge.
‘The President has taken note of President Kenyatta’s statement that the Pandora Papers release will enhance financial transparency and openness around the globe.’
Kenyatta has denied wrongdoing.
The presidents’ talks also come weeks after Biden signed an executive order threatening to levy sanctions against Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and others involved if steps aren’t taken soon to wind down the 11-month-old war in the Tigray region of the country.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki on Thursday afternoon acknowledged that Ethiopia was on the agenda for the meeting but did not provide any additional insight.
The conflict in Ethiopia continues to intensify as Ethiopian forces most recently launched a major military offensive against Tigrayan rebels.
United Nations officials say the attack will only worsen Ethiopia’s current humanitarian crisis. The country is currently struggling with the world’s worst famine in a decade as the government does little to help, blocking aid shipments from those in need.
Biden says he will move forward with sanctions quickly if there are not changes made to benefit the hundreds of thousands living in famine.
Kenya currently holds the presidency of the UN Security Council, which is one reason why Kenyatta is in the US.
Kenyatta has also been somewhat vocal among leaders of African nations regarding the situation in Ethiopia.
While at the UN on Tuesday, Kenyatta told reporters that the two sides need to come to ‘a political resolution because we do not believe that there is any military solution’.
Ethiopia’s government has rejected international ‘meddling’, shifting the focus to trying to find an African solution to the crisis that has killed thousands, some now by starvation.
According to the US government and the UN, Ethiopian troops are also preventing trucks carrying food and other aid to enter the country.
Psaki did not address the matter during her briefing.
During the meeting, Biden also announced one-time donation of 17million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine to the African Union, Psaki said.